- Why people used to go to church + why they now go to Google + Facebook instead
- How the Traditional Publishing Complex Tamed the Mob … and What Outsiders Could Learn from Justine Musk
- Do you understand the gravity of the matter?
- Science vs. Relativity
- Public Transportation in the United States of America
- Generic Community Languages
- How to Tell Whether a TLD is a Generic TLD or a Proprietary TLD
- The Mystery of Self-Organisation
- The most sinister of all retard media hoaxes is the idea that someone has “arrived” in society when they are mentioned in a prominent retard media publication
- Knowing how to spell a word is not down to some random person’s opinion — or is it?
- The Uneducated Masses Will Probably Choose the Free Lunch
- Why Collocation Matters
- Words as Puzzle Pieces
- Computers, Humans, Economics, Marketing, Logic and Psychology
- If you want any more, you can suit yourself
- Maybe love is when you value someone’s so-called “subjective opinion” more than so-called “objective facts”
- What is right / wrong, good / bad about self-promotion
- Friends, Lovers and Keepers
- An idea is the constellation of feelings that you and other people who also participate in the same shared concept engage in
- Information / Technology vs. People
- Mobile Apps vs. Web Domains
- Preferred Fantasies
- Evidence-Based Life: What it takes to be somebody
- 21st Century Production Functions and Implications for the Labor Force, Employment, Unemployment and the General Population
- Nighttime Silver Linings
- Google is not an NGO
- Transcending Textual Materialism
- Life Mashups: Business + Love
- What Seems Wrong with TL;DR Monologues
- Little Bitty Digital Fantasy
The other day I argued that there is no such thing as an objectively “true” language (at least not for feeble-minded humans). If you missed that, then please go ahead and check out “Science vs. Relativity” before venturing on.
Today, I want to underscore how important this is for regular folks living everyday lives.
Let me first note that there is a huge sector of the education industry that has been busily working on creating such “true” and/or “scientific” languages for quite a long time already… — and the fanatical advocates of such “truthers” often carry flags with the letters “STEM” written on them (which are supposed to stand for “science”, “technology”, “engineering” and “mathematics”, respectively). Some invent abstract symbols like “2”, “4”, “+”, “=”, etc. (and then have fun creating tautological statements like “2 + 2 = 4″), others collect holy measuring sticks (and other physical objects) and use these to measure things, and newer breeds devise algorithms that are suppose to produce meaningful output, such as “standard deviation” or “gross national product”.
What most of these intellectual games have in common is — very broadly speaking — the notion that there is “one right answer”, and in order to figure out this correct answer you simply have to observe data in the real world and then plug it into a formula. In theory, there should be no ambiguity whatsoever — either something is, or it isn’t…. There is no “maybe” — definitely (note, however, that some scientists — for example Einstein — were very careful and repeatedly warned about how to interpret statistics… especially with regard to such ideas as certainty, uncertainty, “hard facts” and so on).
Ideally (for STEM fanatics), if the world followed the theoretical textbook (instead of the other way around), then it might even be possible for one theory to “match up” with another theory — in other words, that the data would “line up” and one theoretical equation might essentially entail another equation, too. The entire universe might work as one huge interconnected clockwork machinery-thing.
But alas, we are mere mortals… and so far we haven’t collected enough data yet.
The most fanatical of such data wizards would go forth with “punch cards” and remind you that your entire genome is nothing but a stream of ones and zeros… — but if asked what a “genome” is, they might have a somewhat glazed look in their eyes….
In the real world, the first thing you do in the morning is to get up, maybe make some coffee, perhaps eat a bite of this or that, but most importantly: SMILE!
Ask any data wiz how “smile” can be translated into ones and zeros — they will without a doubt be dumbfounded.
Smiles and clouds are extremely important in our daily lives, but they simply do not translate into simple “STEM” formulas.
The real world is wall-to-wall maybe. Uncertainty lurks around every corner. We do our best by making educated guesses (like: “has the day started yet?” might be answered with “the sun has been up for half an hour already!” [note though, that such statements are not completely "unscientific" either ]).
Languages that have evolved over many millennia (rather than being “invented” more-or-less overnight) are streamlined by evolution in order to meet the needs of their “users”… and this often means they are adapted to working well in particular contexts (for example: if it is important for users to differentiate between “snow” and “ice”, then there may very well be easy ways to express such differences in the language the users choose to use [and such choices will also affect the development of the language -- again: as described by Piaget's concepts of "accommodation" and "assimilation"]).
The point is this: Since the world is (from our limited point of view) inherently uncertain, there is no reason to favor an unambiguous, quasi-“scientifically-correct” contrived “fly-by-night” language over a language that has gone through thousands of years of evolution. To do so would be on par with an attempt to re-invent the wheel. Why would anyone want to do that?
In science, there is a tendency to prefer universal truths over localized observations. For example: the reason why people believe that gravity is a scientific “fact of life” is not simply because one apple happened to fall down on someone’s head somewhere, and also not because they happened to fall down in England at some point in time, but rather (so the theory goes) that all kinds of matter will behave the same way throughout time and space. Scientists cannot really make direct observations across vast spans of time or space, but they are nonetheless very willing to make universal statements in the name of science.
There is some nuanced irony to the idea that observations from experiments should be “verifiable”. The idea behind this is that a scientific law should always hold true, but the irony is that the conditions are never exactly the same (since time has elapsed, the universe has changed, etc.). Besides: Perhaps the reason why something happens is entirely hidden from our ability to observe it. Perhaps the most amazing thing of all is that so many believe science to be undeniable truth.
One of Einstein’s significant contributions to the field of science was his notion of “frame of reference”. According to this view, the same phenomena can be interpreted differently, according to which frame of reference one happens to take. Hence, the moon seems to revolve around the earth when a stationary earth is taken as the frame of reference… but both revolve around the sun if the sun is considered the (stationary) frame of reference, and so on (with regards to the Milky Way galaxy, etc.).
Each frame of reference can be see as its own “world view”, a way of describing the universe from a particular vantage point, a particularly localized speck in space (and time). The elements of vastly complex systems may be viewed differently from each of these different frames of reference, and these different points of view may very well give rise to different languages — different ways of observing, and perhaps also different observations — see also “Noam Chomsky Talks at Google“.
As Professor Chomsky emphasizes in the interview linked above, the loss of any one of these world views (i.e., languages) is a loss for humanity, a further limitation of perspective. Our knowledge of the universe becomes lessened each time we eradicate another way of describing it. Having a single, universal language would be extremely limiting! Again: Ironically, this is what many seem to expect from “science”.
Whether or not this is a valid objection to the hegemony of “science” as a universally true language, we also need to take a step back and consider what this means for regular humans: Most people would no longer be able to speak at all. You could no longer say “you”, “me”, “I think”, “yesterday”, “right now”,… nor indeed most of the elements of any natural whatsoever. Consider something as simple as noting the image a cloud in the sky makes: In order to speak precisely, your remark would have to make reference to every single speck of dust in the sky, every single water molecule attached to every single speck, all of the atoms moving in various directions, and all with reference to some centralized universal frame of reference. Even if this weren’t impossible, it would still be so ridiculously complicated that it would vastly exceed what any single human being could muster.
Every single moment of every single day, we all vastly over-simplify the vast complexity of the world we live in — in order to be able to make any sense of it at all… and we each do this by invoking various frames of reference, each tailored to the contexts we experience. We constantly interpret the world around us — as Piaget said: by accommodating and assimilating new observations into our already acquired knowledge about the world, thereby constantly revising and reformulating our language(s).
I was traveling in the USA this summer, and after I had a very negative experience due to an incompetent worker in the public transportation industry I vowed I would write a blog post about it. Actually, I sort of threatened it, saying if that Greyhound did not apologize for the poor service (which lead to a delay of several hours, such that we were no longer able to arrive during daylight hours ) then I would call them out on it.
Well, if I hadn’t written the previous bit, then I would have lied before — and I didn’t want to do that, either.
With that out of the way, I would like to add something more useful to this topic. Put simply, public transportation fails in the United States of America for no other reason than this: Many / Most Americans don’t want public transportation. If the public doesn’t want public transportation, then public transportation doesn’t need to work. If public transportation doesn’t need to work, then why invest any money in trying to make it work? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to simply employ incompetent people at minimum wage and not to worry about what they do at all? Granted, not all people who work in public transportation are incompetent, but apparently no one to cares whether they are or not.
It seems that in the USA, the way the so-called “free market” incentivizes someone to be more than incompetent is to pay more than the minimum wage. I don’t know the exact numbers, but it seems to me that the main difference between someone receiving unemployment and the minimum wage is that people who receive the minimum wage are will to get up and do something (whether they do it well or not doesn’t seem to matter all that much).
Until Americans realize that their level of consumption of fossil fuels is preposterously high, there doesn’t seem to be much reason for them to want public transportation to work. Although the next oil shock — if it is significant enough — might make that happen, Americans are still completely unprepared for it. It will probably be messy, but there is no doubt in my mind that it will have to happen sometime… and probably sometime relatively soon.
I have been thinking about the meaning / significance of the various “generic” top-level domains decades for at least a decade, and now I have come up with something I consider a “workable” way to think about it.
First of all: Anyone who considers any top-level domain should pay attention to which legal framework that TLD is subject to (it’s so-called “jurisdiction”). This is the single most significant aspect. However, as all generic TLDs are currently subject to the laws of the United States (the .name registry used to be managed in the United Kingdom, but is now being managed in the United States), all generic TLDs are equivalent from that point of view.
Secondly: Since they were started, most generic TLDs have been strongly influenced by cultural norms in the United States… and at the same time also by something like a “Global English” language. For the 3 oldest generic TLDs, this has lead to the following interpretations:
COM = particularly commercial
ORG = particularly organisational
NET = not particularly anything
Two other notable generic top-level domains — INFO and BIZ — were started later than the original generic names (COM, NET and ORG), and therefore these might be characterized by such attributes as “latecomer”, “small business” and/or perhaps particularly keyword-oriented (as there is usually no reason not to register a [commercial or organisational] brand name in either the COM or the ORG registry).
So far, however, these “latecomer” TLDs are not very well developed — and therefore there are virtually no established conventions to speak of regarding the use of these newer top-level domains (except, perhaps, being particularly “English Language” … especially “Global English”).
Simply enter the name of TLD into the browser bar and then add .NAME
In the .NAME registry, the TLD name for generic domain names are reserved words and cannot be register — so if you get no response, then the TLD is probably a true generic TLD (otherwise, it is probably a proprietary domain name).
Everywhere we look, we identify organisations ordered top-down (by fiat), or via “grass roots” movements,… — or, if we have no clue how a specific order came about, we simply say it came about “by itself”.
There was, for example, much discussion about such topics a little over a century ago, when people were interested to know how evolution works. Why do giraffes have long necks? By “natural selection”, it is said — pretty much: via self-organisation. Of course one could also say that the trees grew high, and that is why giraffes have long necks. This begs the question: Why did the trees grow high? And perhaps the best answer might be: Well, not all of them did, but the smaller trees got eaten up by the giraffes. There is no end to this — we simply don’t know.
Ah, but here come some hackers with computers — will they solve such questions with big data? No. They have not even yet jotted down whether the Earth revolves on its axis in a clockwise direction, or a counter-clockwise direction. If some of them are reading this and are getting up to run and record this fact, maybe half of them will write down “clockwise” and the rest will write down “counter-clockwise”. Could this fact (about the earth’s rotation — not whether it is deemed to be clockwise or counter-clockwise) be the cause of all evolutionary processes? Perhaps — after all: presumably the Earth has been rotating this way the entire time during which evolution has happened, and there are no data to contradict this possibility (therefore, some might argue: that is proof! )
Why have both Germanic and Romance languages developed the way they have? Is it evolution? Self-organization? …? Your guess is as good as mine! Or maybe it was the rotation of the Milky Way galaxy?
In some languages, animal doctors have a specific name (such as “veterinarian”). Sometimes, there are people who care for specific animals who are not referred to as animal doctors or veterinarians, but by other names — such as “beekeeper”. Yet as far as I know, beekeepers are not to blame if certain species of bees become extinct. Does any of this make any logical sense? No.
It seems to be difficult for humans to accept that there are some processes over which they have little or no control — either individually or collectively. The evolution of languages is a good example. Imagine two hypothetical people: Mister X and Mister Y. Mister X and Mister Y might consider themselves to be so great that it doesn’t matter to them whether you call them a veterinarian, an animal doctor, a beekeeper, a banker or a politician. They are both capable of working, but maybe they do not wish to be referred to as “just another worker”. They consider themselves to be “Mister X” and “Mister Y” — so you should refer to them by “their” names.
But what if someone’s animal is sick? Then that person might search for a solution — would the person say “oh, I know: I will go to Mr. X, because he’s a nice guy and I think he knows a lot”? Perhaps — but what if Mr. X knows nothing about bees, or even about animals in general, … their health, their treatment, etc.? Oh, that would be sad, then the animal might die.
No one must refer to an “animal doctor” as a “veterinarian” (or vice versa), and the fact many people do use these (or similar) terms is not by decree or fiat, or as a grass roots movement,… — it simply happens… by self-organisation.
The most sinister of all retard media hoaxes is the idea that someone has “arrived” in society when they are mentioned in a prominent retard media publication
This hoax is of fundamental importance in retard media — because if retard media makers are able to convince people of this, then they can get people to pay money (i.e., buy advertising space) to appear (in the hope of thereby “arriving” in society) which is the entire business model.
It’s understood that Hollywood sells Californication…